Questions tagged [shakespeare]

Questions relating to William Shakespeare, an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

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15
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4answers
2k views

…down the primrose path

What is the origin of primrose used in the idiom primrose path, as defined by the Oxford Online Dictionary? primrose path The pursuit of pleasure, especially when it is seen to bring ...
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0answers
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Why there is no article before “heire”? [duplicate]

The following passage is from All's Well That Ends Well: Shee is young, wise, faire, In these, to Nature shee's immediate heire: And these breed honour: According to the research I did on Cambridge ...
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2answers
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Why, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, does “square” mean “quarrel”?

When referring to dictionaries, there seems to be no such meaning as "quarrel" under the word "square", only "in agreement". But in II 1 of A Midsummer Night's Dream, "square" in the following text ...
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1answer
70 views

Help understanding a sentence from “An Introduction to Mathematics”, but it's about Shakespeare!

I'm reading Alfred North Whitehead's "An Introduction to Mathematics". I need help understanding a sentence at the beginning of the book: The study of mathematics is apt to commence in ...
-4
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3answers
221 views

An expression, idiom, or phrase meaning “I lied” or “they are lying” or “to tell a lie”, etc? [closed]

Looking for an expression, idiom, or phrase that would indicate a lie is being told, or was told, etc. I will not be using this phrase as part of a sentence, so I can't give an example. I just ...
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0answers
24 views

How did Shakespeare have characters tell each other to calm down? (“Paradise Lost” Play Adaptation) [closed]

Basically, I was helping a friend with a play. To be specific, it's an adaptation of "Paradise Lost" by John Milton. In the scene, Eve is perfectly calm. Adam is a little confused and worked up by a ...
0
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1answer
446 views

What does this Much Ado quote mean, "I can see a church by day light'?

I was reading through Act 2 Scene 1 of Much Ado About Nothing and I found the below rather difficult to interpret as I am stuck between two meanings. LEONATO: Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly. ...
0
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2answers
555 views

What does “thrice-blessed” mean in “A Midsummer Night's Dream” Act 1 Scene 1?

There was a line in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" Act 1 Scene 1 that says: "... Thrice-blessèd they that master so their blood To undergo such maiden pilgrimage." (Theseus) So, could anyone ...
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1answer
303 views

How should I understand these lines from As You Like It?

I am currently on my second reading of As You Like It. I am having a really hard time comprehending lines 22-25 in Act 1, scene 2. Here are those lines as they appear in the version I am reading (The ...
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2answers
736 views

Shakespeare's “say sooth” vs. “tell truth”

The noun sooth, pronounced /suːθ/, is now archaic and means ‘fact’,‘reality’ and ‘truth’. Its legacy persists in the words soothe /suːð/, and soothsayer meaning someone who sees the truth, a synonym ...
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2answers
674 views

What is the meaning of, “Women thinking themselves as double-cherry”?

My question is about a sentence that I read in one of criticism of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, it reads as follows: The relationship between Helena and Hermia is characterised by ...
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2answers
320 views

Shakespeare's omission of 'as' before 'single' in 'When sorrows come, they come not single spies…'

When Shakespeare wrote: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions", why didn't he put an "as" before "single spies"?
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2answers
417 views

Shakespeare's Macbeth “Conduct me to (mine) host” Mine host vs My Host

The first time I heard "mine host" in Shakespeare's Macbeth, I went to Wiktionary to see if it once was used instead of "my," however, I ended up with that it should not be followed by a noun but ...
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3answers
331 views

In Love's Labour's Lost, what does “spite of cormorant devouring time” mean?

In the opening statement of Love's Labour's Lost (Act 1 Scene 1), Ferdinand speaks of why he wants to make the oath to study and forgo base pleasures. He says Let fame, that all hunt after in their ...
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3answers
222 views

Early Modern English: Shakespearean Insult [duplicate]

I think many are familiar with the famous line from Shakespeare: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. What I seek to do is keep the analogy but change ...
1
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1answer
95 views

thou/you and art/are In Shakespeare's sonnets

Is there a consistent application of any distinction between the forms of the words thou and you, and art and are in Shakespeare's sonnets? Is he simply following a convention regarding formality in ...
2
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1answer
215 views

What is the origin of “sleep till I wake him”?

In King Lear, the phrase "If our father would sleep till I waked him" is used in Edmund's fake letter to Gloucester. Apparently it means "if our father were dead"[1][2]. What is the origin of the ...
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1answer
32 views

What sounds better My lovely Kellisa or the lovely kellisa [closed]

Am wrting a poem for a beautiful girl in my advanced English class and the last thing I want is for her to think I don't care about her (its freshman advanced English)
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2answers
236 views

Shakespeare Use of present tense narrating a past action

in Macbeth, Acte III -scene 6, In this portion of the scene: «  Lennox- Sent he to Macduff? Lord - He did, and with an absolute 'Sir, not I,' The cloudy messenger turns me his back, ...
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2answers
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Shakespearean relative clause: “I have a brother is condemned to die”

In Measure for Measure 2.2.785, Shakespeare wrote the following sentence: I have a brother is condemned to die. I am wondering why he omitted the relative pronoun and left the helping verb. Isn't ...
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1answer
228 views

Using imaginary word “Hamletian” in AP Engish Literature annotated bibliography [closed]

I was considering creating the word "Hamletian," meaning "of Hamlet," for use in an annotated bibliography, because I like the sound of "Hamletian criticism" much more than "criticism of Hamlet." It ...
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0answers
83 views

How to explain the phrase of “Shakespeare’s trifling does indeed tread upon the very borders of vacancy”

All we then want is to proclaim a truce with reason, and to be pleased with as little expense of thought or pretension to wisdom as possible. This licensed fooling is carried to its very utmost ...
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2answers
693 views

Word order: “dear my lord” in Shakespeare

I'm revisiting my old question [#167151]. The original question was about the word order: “dear my love” or “my dear love”. I hold a position that we say “my dear love”. But when I was saying a ...
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1answer
190 views

Was the “i” long or short in Shakespeare's plays?

In Queen Gertrude's short opening monologue the final two lines seem to have rhymed in Shakespeare's day: Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted colour off, And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark....
6
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1answer
239 views

Did 'lawyer' have a broader meaning in Shakespeare's time?

In Act 4, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2, Dick the butcher, one of Jack Cade's rebels, shouts: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers. The rebels bring in the clerk of ...
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0answers
234 views

Can this be called a quote from Shakespeare’s play “Much Ado About Nothing"? [closed]

"Silence is the perfectest herald of joy. I were but little happy. if I could say how much." As translated into English used nowadays, can this be called a quote from Shakespeare? More important, ...
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3answers
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What is the meaning of this sentence in modern English?

It is a quotation of Hamlet in Act 5, Scene 2. If it be now, ’tis not to come. What will be the structure of this sentence in simple modern English? I am going to explain why it seems odd to me. ...
2
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1answer
176 views

“Opus magnum” of the English Language [closed]

While in Spanish we are taught that Cervantes’ Don Quixote is the defining work of literature of the Spanish language (not as a matter of opinion, but rather as a matter of Canon), I have heard ...
3
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2answers
417 views

Shakespearean way of speaking

Was the language used in Shakespeare's plays commonly used among people at that time in normal speech? I know that iambic pentameter was commonly used in formal, pre-prepared speeches at the time, but ...
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1answer
3k views

Detailed Explanation of Sonnet 55 [closed]

Could anyone give me a line by line interpretation of Sonnet 55? I am having a hard time understanding it.
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1answer
2k views

In “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, does “ay” mean “yes” or “always”?

And since that time it is eleven years, For then she could stand alone. Nay, by the rood, She could have run and waddled all about, For even the day before, she broke her brow. And then my ...
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1answer
229 views

Was Shakespeare's Hamlet truly fat?

In the final scene Hamlet's mother, watching the duel and worried about her son's fortunes, observes that He's fat and scant of breath. Editions that bother to explain this or that archaic turn of ...
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4answers
4k views

Does the modern definition of “awful” come from its homonym to “offal”?

The following lines are found in Act I, Scene III of Julius Caesar: What trash is Rome, What rubbish and what offal, when it serves For the base matter to illuminate So vile a thing as Caesar!...
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4answers
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Does “goodly” in this sentence in Hamlet mean “considerable” or "pleasing?

In Hamlet there is the following conversation: GUILDENSTERN: Prison, my lord! HAMLET: Denmark's a prison. ROSENCRANTZ: Then is the world one. HAMLET: A goodly one; in which there are ...
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6answers
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“Fool” meaning “baby”

The word is "fool." The OED has been no help on this, but my copy of Hamlet makes reference to its having the meaning "baby" so when Polonius says "You'll tender me a fool" he is cautioning Ophelia ...
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2answers
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Is Shakespeare's Double Negative Grammatically Wrong?

In Act I Scene I of The Merchant of Venice Shakespeare's character Salarino uses a double negative in the phrase Not in love neither?, is this grammatically wrong or was this acceptable at the time? [...
7
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3answers
297 views

Was Shakespeare's use of “retrograde” an astronomical metaphor?

In Hamlet (I.2) Claudius remarks to Hamlet that his plan to return to university at Wittenberg is ... most retrograde to our desire ... To a modern ear, this is striking and poetic, but I wonder: ...
6
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9answers
575 views

Expression for “Puts the world into her person and so gives me out.”

In Much Ado About Nothing, there is at one point the following sentence (Act 2, Scene 1, spoken by Benedick): I am not so reputed; it is the base, though bitter, disposition of Beatrice that puts ...
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0answers
91 views

Is “to say” in Hamlet's “and by a sleep to say we end” an infinitive or an adverb?

I was trying to identify the word classes of Hamlet's famous monologue "To be or not to be", and I'm really having trouble deciding what word class "to say" in "and by sleep to say we end the ...
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1answer
718 views

What does this sentence from Shakespeare mean? [closed]

Can someone kindly help me translate the following sentence from Shakespeare's language to Modern English through a context: "Prithee, would'st thou stay and sup with me in yonder chamber?"
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2answers
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What word did Middle English have in place of “light" as in: “light blue”, “light green” etc.?

In English, we often use the adjective light before another colour to express a whiter shade of hue. For example, light blue, light green, light brown, etc. The term pale is used in a similar way, e....
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1answer
98 views

How can I quote a play from the middle of a line?

Here is the play stanza: Good night to everyone. [To Brabantio] And, noble signior, If virtue no delighted beauty lack, Your son-in-law is far more fair than black. I do not ...
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2answers
1k views

Go out into the world - The Tempest?

A few years ago, we studied the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony with our English teacher. The following words (spoken by Sir Ian McKellen if I remember well) are still echoing in my mind: ...
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1answer
222 views

how to understand the following Shakespeare's dialogue?

I was recently studying a play of Shakespeare called: Merry Wives of Windsor and the context is that there are two persons talking one is William and the other is Evans, the second one is the father ...
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2answers
327 views

Variety of English used by the Romantic poets| -eth/-s for the third person singular in particular

I have recently been reading poetry by John Keats and Rabindranath Tagore. Both these poets, being active in the 19th century, by which time I think English was quite as it is today, wrote still in ...
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3answers
3k views

What does Macbeth mean when he says his heart is “seated”?

Here's the quote (from The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare): This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing ...
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6answers
618 views

“As I am wo/man” in Twelfth Night, II, 2 (Shakespeare): a case of indefinite article omission or no?

Are "As I am man" and "As I am woman" in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, II, 2 examples of indefinite article omission or not? This question is (e)specially directed towards those familiar with ...
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2answers
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Murdered in cold blood?

In Shakespeare's Othello, would the murder of Desdemona be a "cold blooded murder"? When looking up the meaning of a cold blooded murder I find it means that the murder was premeditated or deliberate. ...
2
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2answers
457 views

Roaming and Coming in William Shakespeare's O Mistress Mine

William Shakespeare's O Mistress Mine, Feste's song from Twelfth Night, seems to have the rhyming scheme AABCCB. However, the first two lines are problematic for that scheme with modern pronounciation:...
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1answer
64 views

A Winter's Tale Help, 'He something seemed…'

There is a children's copy of A Winter's Tale at work with a line I didn't understand (browsing whilst waiting for the microwave!). It says 'He something seemed unsettled' (Hermione talking about ...